Onward

art kitty

 

It”s official. I am a published illustrator.  And as I said, for the time being, I will be updating the illustrations and working on book two rather than focusing on the German life. I invite all of you to come to www.aogstudios.wordpress.com and check things out. If you’re a colorist, and even if you don’t color but know someone who does, the page should prove to be fun and exciting.

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And we’re off!

Hallo!

Well friends, it’s been a long time in the making but it is finally within a few weeks of completion… my first published book. I hope all of you who have enjoyed the German blog will join me here at https://aogstudios.wordpress.com to celebrate the world of adult coloring books.

I hope to see many of you soon as I get reacquainted with WordPress. It is unbelievable what a person can forget in a year.

It’s Been a Long Time

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAHallo Friends!

You can see that it has been a long time since my last post. When I left you I was recovering from a heart attack, looking for more work and attempting to make Quark. Let me update you on a few things.

First, the Quark was a no go. My cultures died in the mailbox so I never even made my first batch. Because right after they shipped I got a job.

Second the new job took a lot of getting used to. I forgot how much retail takes out of your brain, your soul and in the end… your body when you are ill. I’ve been at this job for a solid year now and I am not even remotely close to being financially secure or healthy enough to have my old energy levels. The positive thing about it though is that the physical demands are making me stronger. It’s just taking awhile.

Thirdly, in the hunt for fiscal security and soul sustaining work, I stumbled upon a blog that had some great advice and instruction on self publishing. So I have been building a hefty portfolio of images on a variety of themes to begin the process of self publishing a coloring book. As you can imagine, that is nearly a full time job itself.

So what about the German heritage thing we have going on here? Well, let me be honest, I don’t cook much of anything anymore. A full time retail job, trying to get the book done and not having a coronary while doing it makes a lot of things have to take a back burner. I am looking forward to resuming this adventure in food and history. However it will take me some time to settle into a new routine and begin to reincorporate all of my varied interests.

I am letting go of my older google blogs, building a WordPress blog for the new venture and trying to promote the new material. As things progress I will let you all know what is happening. With any luck, I will be a regular WordPress reader and writer again in a few short months. And I am hoping that the new blog will be a peaceful and restive place away from the politics that has driven so many into the real world to escape the constant sniping. Yeah… that’s impacted how much of my time is spent online. And I gotta tell ya, I really missed the sun, the beach, and the rock collecting while I was hiding out here.

Anyway.. It’s good to be back and I’ll be updating soon.

Tchüß

Hiatus

Hallo!

Posting has been sporadic as I have been focused on learning how to make soda bread. That is perfected and I am on to yeast breads with the intent of learning how to make brotchen. And as a special treat, in the coming weeks, I am hoping to present to you home made Quark, Sahnequark and Magerquark.

The research and the practice are a bit time consuming as well as the job searching. So patience, we’ll be back shortly.

Pfirsich Kuchen

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peach cupcakes

Summer breakfast treats

Hallo!

Summer is still underway. It is the middle of peach season and the prices are right! So today I have for you a peach cake. It uses the same recipe as the plum cake HOWEVER, this time I used the right ingredients, no substitutions. We got a nice light and fluffy cake with great flavor. Granted this one didn’t get the height one expects, my fault for not cooling it in the oven with the door open for a few minutes.

The result though is a rustic cake in the German tradition with the American buttercream and peach slices for garnish.

I went with the butter cream as opposed to the rustic naked and icing sugar dusted cake because my peaches were weak in flavor even though they were fresh. That’s what I get for shopping at Wal-mart for fruit instead of a farmers market. Necessity breeds invention though. I cooked down two peaches in ALDI’s Landshut Riesling until I had a thick paste. This concentrates the flavors. Since the Landshut Riesling has an intense fruit flavor it was the perfect thing to bring out the peach flavor. A pinch of salt and a small splash of vanilla really strengthen those weak peaches. You must cool the reduction before adding to the buttercream frosting.

The recipe makes 6 giant cupcakes and one 4 inch round.

Grease and lightly flour tins.

Slice peaches for the batter.

Prepare batter. Spoon into tins to one third full. Layer fresh peach slices onto the batter by cutting into wedges, sliding the skin side right up to the tin wall. You have to leave room for the cake to rise; whole slices laid in the tin will prevent moisture from escaping. Spoon another tablespoon or so on top of slices. Spread batter while leaving a bit of the peach to peak out around the top.

Bake. Cool. Top with frosting. Garnish with thin slices of peach, skin on.

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family sized 4 inch cake is perfect for luncheon or Sunday tea.

Enjoy!

 

Piece of Cake!

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cake sliceAccording to the German food page at about.com Apricot cake is as common in Germany as the Toll House Cookie is in America. That said, this recipe then is one that all good German cooks must know and perfect. It is not too far a leap in logic to assume that quality of one’s apricot cake is a measure of the quality of one’s skills.

My Grandfather made a plum cake that was absolute Heaven in a 9 x 13 pan. And he preferred apricot preserves for all of his baking glazes. But he never made us an apricot cake.With  this recipe I’ve  used plumcots to get the plum cake my grandfather made and the apricots the recipe calls for.

Plumcots are a hybrid of plums and apricots and a source of contention for hybrid growers, marketers and farmers. Plumcots and Pluots are interchangeable varieties of a plum apricot hybrid to the masses. But not to aficionados. The gory details of their growing history can be parsed at slate.com. Counting myself among the mass of grocery shoppers, the only thing that is really important to note is that these fruits are more plum than apricot.

The skin is smooth and plummy, the flesh is firmer than plum and the flavor is definitely more plum but with an apricot tang on the finish. The plumcots are also cheaper by the pound in my area than either apricots or plums. So this is the cake we get as it calls for a pound and a half of fruit. Two pounds were 2.69 at ALDI. I like to think that Grampa would be impressed with the finished product as much as the price. Here’s hoping that it gets more than a 1.5 from the German judges.

SUBSTITUTIONS

In addition to substituting plumcots for apricots, I had to improvise the citrus and the baking powder. I only had limes in the house as the lemons didn’t look like a good buy. One lime will do. Lime has a stronger flavor than you would think when all is mixed together. So one normal sized lime, wholly zested is plenty.

Buttermilk is not something that I buy regularly. And I wasn’t thinking about it at all when I decided on this cake. Note to self: German recipes use a lot of buttermilk! So I juiced the lime I zested and used that as a buttermilk Substitute by adding one tablespoon of juice to my measuring cup and filling up to the one cup line with whole milk. Do this right before you start to mix the ingredients. By the time you reach the point of adding the buttermilk to the batter it should have the right acidity.

This recipe also calls for German Baking powder which is a double acting powder rather than the standard single acting we typically use in America. What’s the difference? Essentially the amount of carbon dioxide released in the process. So for this recipe I used 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Yes, oddly enough I did have THAT on hand.

Now that the substitutions are underway it is time to make the cake batter.

Cut your fruits in half and pit them.

Grease and flour your pan. Almost all of the German cakes I see require a Springform pan. I bought a Euro model at ALDI this Winter. You might have seen them on the Great British Baking Show. The platform is indented and the ring sits in the indent. When you lock the ring into position there is a lip around the bottom of the tin. I LOVE THIS FEATURE! If you bake a cheesecake that wants to run over the drips are caught in the pan before they hit the oven floor. It is genius! I still have my American pans. But I totally love this new one. And…. it makes a pretty though rustic serving dish unlike the American style which is usually covered in cake.

Batter Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons soft Buter
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 teaspoon double acting baking powder
  • 1 cup Buttermilk or Sour Milk*

Cream the butter  with sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the zest.

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients. Beat this into the egg mixture until well combined. Add the milk. Mix well. * original recipe called for 1/4 cup milk. I made the substitution recipe and inadvertently used the whole cup. I got a taller cake that was dense and less flakey than the German variety would have been. It was still delicious, the flavors all popped and it definitely spread better in the pan. 

Spread into the baking pan and tap out the air bubbles that might be trapped. Place plumcots on top of batter, cut side down, in a radiating pattern.

Bake at 350° for 30-40 Minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.

Evolution of a Cake

You’ll notice my fruits are cut side up. This is a gorgeous presentation and if you were using APRICOTS then yes do this. Plumcot skins are smooth and the batter won’t grip them well. When your fork slices into the cake the fruit pops right off! This is why in the recipe I recommend turning them skin up. Hopefully the skins will cook better in the direct heat soften enough to cooperate with the fork.

Rather than measure out fruit by weight, I like to use what will fit in the pan. As you can guess I only used half of what was in the first picture above. And I did use an apricot glaze just because the cake didn’t really get all that golden brown on its own. This probably is due to all the milk that I used.

The basic batter and your choice of fruit is all you need for a sweet Summer cake.

Guten Apetit!

Summer Salad: Raw Purple Bean

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purple bean salad

This weekend we went tall ship hunting in Frankfort. Unfortunately the ship in our sites, the Norwegian vessel Draken Harald Harfagre had already set sail for Chicago. The Frankfort farmers market was already well underway so we went through. There were delights that made me yearn for a garden of my own. We found emu steaks, a supplier of sides of beef, and some wonderful veggies including the purple pole beans, german garlic, russian garlic, and some gorgeous red onions.

German garlic is little used in culinary practices. It is sharp with a hot tang, perfect for dishes when you want something strong. The farmer said that the Russian was sweet and mild. I used the German garlic for a pickling dressing on some trimmed pole beans. (More on that later) and wanted it to punch up my raw purple bean salad.

The purple color is only skin deep so the best way to preserve the color for serving is in a salad or as pickles. The salad has a strong dressing to punch everything up a bit. Which might be the most German thing about the dressing.

Ingredients:

  • purple pole beans, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 red onion sliced thin
  • 2 balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove German garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 Riesling
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

First mix the Riesling and vinegar in a canning jar, with the garlic to soak a bit. Then add in sugar, pepper and olive oil. Screw on the lid and shake well.

Dice the purple beans into small pieces, about a centimeter. The raw beans should be on the small size so that the flavor snaps, the bean is still juicy and the interior seed isn’t tough or bitter. Toss in a bowl, add remaining veggies, coat with dressing and serve.

 

I garnished ours with a bit of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

This is refreshing on a hot and steamy Summer day. And it looks like this is going to be a hot and steamy Summer so lots of days for enjoying these kinds of treats!

Fluffs: Quintessential Flavors, Blackberry

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dessert is served fresh in a Depression Era reproduction bowl after a sunny Summer on the deck.

We call them fluffs in the States. Fruits, Jell-o, or a pudding blended with a whipped cream, commonly Cool Whip, make a popular treat for Pot Luck gatherings. Simple ingredients and a rather large volume are the two biggest advantages to these desserts which were popularized in the 1040s with the food rationing. Undoubtedly, the concept came to the States with our Immigrnat Ancestors™

Combining a whipped cream with fruits for dessert stretches limited dairy resources. If Germans borrowed the idea from the French parfait they made the concept their own by tucking the mixture into a jelly roll cake. My personal preference is as a stand alone dessert served smartly in a pretty bowl or dessert glass.

For this simple dessert, rinse the freshly picked blackberries and drain well. Sprinkle roughly a tablespoon per pint onto the berries and let them macerate for about twenty minutes.

Prepare whipped cream in a CHILLED metal bowl with  CHILLED beaters for your hand mixer. Putting these in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes while your berries are macerating. The frozen bowl and beater will help achieve a higher fluff. Using COLD heavy whipping cream directly from the refrigerator and powdered sugar in the proportions for you favorite recipe will give you the most satisfying results. If you desire, a small splash of Vanilla extract can be added to enhance the flavors.

Drain the juice from the blackberries well. Fold into the whipped cream and serve.

It is that simple! And oh so refreshing on a hot day.

 

 

 

Sun, Sand & Water means picnic!

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Is there anything more inspiring than a day at the beach? Summer in Northern Michigan means that the whole outdoors is your living space. As it is here, it is so also in Germany. Though I have noticed in the travel magazines the the Germans are intrepid enough to eat out of doors even in the mild parts of Winter. I might be of German descent but I am not that well adjusted to brave a Winter picnic. That is a special treat for Summer.

Summer eats tend to be sandwiches, chips and assorted finger foods unless you will be at a park with a grill. Or bring your own. Once in a while you will find our basket filled with salads. The latest salad on the Summer menu  is new for us.

Introducing: Dinkelsalat

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spargel, dinkelsalat, & frickadellen

Dinkel is the German for Farro, commonly called spelt and sometimes confused with other varieties of wheat. Farro is a grain related to wheat that is more ancient than the Roman Empire. The protein rich grain is a staple in many European cultures as it is an economical alternative to expensive beef products. German preparations for Farro salad do not differ all that much from the Italian preparations. Though, true to German character, there are cream based dressings for the salad. As it is Summer and we like to keep things light on our adventures, and afterwards, this dressing is prepared with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Working with Giada’s recipe I made only minor alterations.

First instead of the fresh herbs I used dried. My German Thyme did not survive for a second year and I did not plant any new this year. We will get back to the herb garden next year. So I substituted 2 teaspoons Marjoram for parsley, used dried chives to taste  and a very small pinch of dried regular Thyme, about an eighth of a teaspoon and black pepper.

And I upped the veggie count. In addition to the tomato & onion in Giada’s recipe I added:

Fresh Asparagus

When I peeled and trimmed the asparagus, I took slices of the thicker part of the stalk. From each stalk slice until you have reached a thickness that will leave tender shoots when it has been steamed. The slices are about one eighth to one quarter inch thick. These were steamed in a basket on top of the farro during its cooking process, chilled in an icy water bath and then drained.

Peppers, celery, green onion

Finely diced multi colored peppers, red and yellow, gave a bit of extra color and crunch to the salad. Farro should be cooked until tender not soft like oatmeal. Since this was my first time and I slightly over cooked it the crunch from extra veggies was necessary.

I left the dressing for the recipe alone. You could use a fancy flavored balsamic vinegar for that little extra punch. If you are into flavored olive oils and have a bottle infused with herbs on hand use that. I imagine that would be even more amazing.

We picnicked on the deck once we got home from the beach with the steamed asparagus and a deep fried frickadellen rounding out the meal. Despite the deep frying this was a really light but filling meal. Each person had two frickadellen whereas one would be otherwise tempted to an American sized portion of 3 or 4.

Served with luncheon meat & cheese roll-ups you can eliminate the processed white bread of a traditional sandwich at the beach for a true shoreline picnic. Fresh seasonal fruits round out the meal anyway & anywhere you serve it.

Guten Appatit!

Frühstück Kuchen

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First day of Summer on the porch

When we were kids the first day of school for the year began with a type of Belgian waffle. My mother swore that the double decker waffle layered with cool whip and fruit cocktail was something that my grandmother served for birthday breakfasts when my mom was growing up. She also swore that this was something that was served in my Gramma Ada’s family in Germany for generations. Do I know this for fact? No. Can I believe it? Yes, I can. Especially when I look at all of the fresh fruit and cream dripped over jelly roll cakes and open faced fruit cakes in the cooking magazines.

After our last post on fruit compotes for the season, I decided to apply the combination to my mother’s waffle construction to create this breakfast cake.What a great way to celebrate the first day of Spring!

Begin with a single layer of yellow cake or, even better, an angel food cake. And angel food cake will let you use the juice from the compote to drizzle fruit flavors into the cake itself before you begin to add layers.

breakfast layers

The first layer is a ready made key lime pie filling. If you can make your own do so, I do not have that particular skill. Next drop a layer of home made fresh whipped cream in the center of the cake. When you begin to form the well, be very careful that you don’t let the wall of the whipped cream layer slide over the edge of the filling layer. The walls of the well will be filled with fruit that is heavy enough to knock it down if you push whipped cream too far out to the edge. The fruit compote should be well drained. I suggest using it to flavor the cake layer with the poke cake method for the yellow cake or brushing the juice over the top of the trimmed angel food cake and letting it soak into the body for an extra burst of flavor.

Finish the cake with a soft, non hardening chocolate sauce. I had dark chocolate on hand but I think also that a white chocolate would make a great drizzle for the top. A small dollop of whipped cream with a blackberry on top finishes the cake for presentation.

Fruit & cream on a fluffy light cake, in the German tradition, makes a great special breakfast for a morning on the porch at the First Day of Summer.